The largest silkmoth in the Pacific Northwest. Caterpillars get HUGE.
This species has the potential to be relatively challenging if kept in unclean conditions. Cut hostplant and airy outside conditions at the third larval shedding onwards are important to prevent disease. A good supply of fresh food is also important. It's recommended to not crowd them.
You will receive ten (10) Polyphemus Silkmoth eggs per order
Eggs will hatch about 2 weeks after they are laid by the female.
We guarantee live eggs, and check for egg fertility by keeping some reserve ova.
Make sure that your mail arrives in a cool location, or that someone is there to meet them on arrival. (Eggs can cook in the sun, and we only refund if our reserve eggs don't hatch)
Caterpillars will need plenty of leaves to munch on after hatching. There is a long list of possible hardwoods leaves that they may accept. (See list at the bottom of the directions), and make sure to have several options available and see which leaves they choose. Here, we raise them on Willow, Maple, Birch, Alder, and Chokecherry.
General Directions: (If you have questions beyond this, please access online resources.)
On receiving, put eggs into a small (2 cup or so) container and seal with lid. This will protect eggs from the dryness of inside air. Never put leaves into a sealed container with eggs.
Check container daily. Keep out of direct sunlight. Depending on indoor temperatures, eggs will take about 10-14 days to hatch after laying. So with shipping time added in, these will hatch fairly quickly. Eggs typically develop a small dent on their side as they get closer to hatching.
After hatching, carefully move larvae individually with a soft paint brush onto cut leaves in a sealed container. Only a few leaves are needed initially.
Leaves: try to offer two or three varieties to see what the caterpillars prefer, and stick with that type they start feeding on.
Caterpillars may wander for up to 24 hours before settling down to feed. This is normal. Just make sure you have the right food for them.
Vent container twice daily to make sure moisture doesn't build up.
Change leaves with fresh leaves every three days. Keeping things clean is super important.
When changing leaves, cut the leaf around the caterpillar and move the leaf part to the new food. Leaving the caterpillar in place. The caterpillar will move to the new food when it's ready.
After the second skin shedding move caterpillars to cut foodplant in water and and airy mesh tent. (Live foodplant outside is also great! Just make sure they are in a protected tent)
For cut foodplant, make sure all access to the water is sealed with paper towels or something similar. Caterpillars love to descend the branch and drown themselves in the water if it's left open.
Keep this processes up until larvae walking around looking for a place to pupate. Expect larvae to clean out their digestive tract before this stage....this basically means a huge messy bowel movement rather than the dry star shape nuggets they normally create.
"Walkers" can be moved into a paper bag to make a cocoon, or may just make a cocoon on the plant and branches in their habitat.
This species will typically NOT hatch out the same year if reared under a normal light cycle outside from the third skin shedding onward. If reared inside, the light cycle can cause the adult to hatch back out again in the same year.
There are many resources and online groups to handle questions about caterpillars and care. Please use them if you need additional assistance.
We will do our best to reply to questions as time permits. Please be patient, as we're busy rearing large quantities of hungry caterpillars all season, and sometimes will be out collecting for days at a time too.
Possible hostplants to try:
Maple Alder Birch Apple Bittercherry Wild cherry Chokecherry Oak Willow